Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Mr.'s new addition: 70R SR Sentinel Sequoia

Since the selling of Chezy the Mr. has been on the lookout for a replacement and new addition. We opted to get a kid so we would be able to raise her to our standards and ensure that she gets a good start. After inquiring on many and turning them down for one reason or another we finally can to an agreement!

We are please to introduce you to the newest addition to Stout Ranch came to us from a neighboring ranch about an hour away. 70RSR Sentinel Sequoia come from solid milking lines and from a herd that breeds for color in addition to mammary and conformation.

She is out of Triple Moon Silver Tanzanite and Sweet B's Argos Ace of Hearts. Tanzanite is out of Kansas lines with strong ties to the Pruittville and Chalivah herds. She is a heavy and consistent milker with an easy going temperament. Argos is a blue roan out of a Colorado Springs area herd that is well known in the show circuits and has proven conformation and mammary in their lines.

Both sire and dam are G6S negative, which means Sequoia is negative by lineage but she will be tested upon turning 6 months old to confirm.

Sequoia is showing her intelligence and curious nature at her young age and already has the making of a beautiful and correct doe with excellent breed characteristics and potential mammary.

We are excited to have Sequoia in our herd and look forward to watching her grow into her reputation.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Broken crayons still color...

This has absolutely nothing to do with goats, chickens, horses, cattle or any kind of animal. Not even the small humans we care for as parents. However, I am sure that we can all relate to this in some way; abuse, self esteem, depression, anxiety, addiction, life in general, relationships, the list goes on. Heck, even running a farm can make you want to give up sometimes.
I pray this helps someone hold on and keep moving even if it is just for today.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Goats 101

Initial Considerations
Goats are affectionate, curious, intelligent and full of life. Each animal has a unique personality and most goats will give back the love and care that is put into them. The way I describe them to people is that a goat is a mix between the cat, dog and cow. They are insanely curious and despise getting wet, rather similar to the cat. They are attention-monsters, quite trainable and adjust happily to human contact like the dog. They also have the ability to produce items of value as the cow does, such as milk, meat, skins and fiber, and provide that function to most of the world's population.

    They also have a very strong herd instinct, that requires them to live with another creature (preferably herbivorous) in order to thrive. If you do not want to live with your goat 24/7, you would be wise to buy two goats, or another animal, like a llama, alpaca, sheep, cow or horse/pony. Your goat may need significant time to get used to a non-goat animal if she has not experienced that kind before, and will vocalize (talk) excessively until she has settled in to her new home. This usually lasts about two weeks if you have purchased two goats, longer if she has to get used to the other animal. Dogs are generally a poor companion choice, as they are the #1 killer of domestic goats in more densely populated areas, with coyotes being a greater threat in more rural areas.

   Your first step in selecting your goats is to decide what you would like to do with them. Traditionally they served as dairy, meat and fiber-producing livestock and sometimes as draft animals, both backpacking and cart-pulling. Today, they also find a useful niche as pets, and as eco-friendly brush and weed control. The breeds in America designed for milk production include Alpine, Lamancha, Guernsey, Nubian, Nigerian, Oberhasli, Saanen, Sable and Toggenburg. The primary meat breeds are Boer, Kiko, and Myotonic ( the famous "Fainting" goat). Goats produce some of the world's premier fibers - mohair from the Angora and cashmere, from the breed with the same name. There are also a few critically rare breeds in need of serious breeders, such as the Arapawa and the San Clemente goat.  And we mustn't forget the Pygmy goat. There are also hybrids of the different breeds, often accidental, but a few deliberate crosses are made as well, most notably the "Mini" breeds - a breeding of a Nigerian with one of the other dairy breeds. Pets and brush goats can be selected from any breed. Draft animals are best selected from the larger breeds.
    Your next goal is finding a breeder. Your best choice for buying a healthy, well-adjusted goat is a breeder with well-kept, healthy-looking animals. The goats should be reasonably well fed - not too thin and not too fat, bright eyed, with good fur coats and, if they are dairy goats, they should be very friendly to both the owner and to you. You should not see dead goats laying around, and injured and sick animals should be under careful care of the owner. If you want to breed goats and sell offspring, it is an excellent decision to ask the breeder for proof of CAE and CL negative status. These are two devastating diseases that will shorten your goat's lives and reduce the value of goats you try to sell. CL is caused by a "bug" that can live in soil for a long time, infecting generations of goats. CAE can cause crippling arthritis and sometimes incurable pneumonia. Neither disease has a cure. Your best option is to avoid them in the first place. Auctions are a poor source of goats for the inexperienced person. Goats often end up there because of a serious problem, such as an incurable disease, neglect (which will cost you more than the goat is worth to cure it), or an ill temper.

    Another thing you might consider, is how friendly do you want your goats to be? Generally, a bottle-raised goat is much friendlier than a dam-raised one (i.e. it was raised by its mother). 4-H children are often excellent choices for finding friendly, well-handled goats, and they often have babies in the summer that they need to find homes for. Visit your local county fair, as 4-H'ers often compete and exhibit their animals there.

    When you are ready to buy your goat, keep in mind that the best time to buy a goat is spring to early fall. If you want a good deal on young male kids for pets, mid to late spring is the best time to buy, as many breeders are desperately trying to reduce workload and demand for milk, and may give you a price break if you are willing to take a couple of babies and bottle raise them yourself. It is next to impossible to find a good quality source of goats in the winter - most breeders will have already sold or butchered the excess animals in order to reduce the amount of feed they have to purchase.

   Prices for goats vary depending on the value of the animal and the owner's individual pricing. Generally, expect to pay $50 or more for a castrated male (more for a meat goat), and $250 or more for a female or a breeding male. If you find one for less than that, you should ask why the price is low - does the animal have a disease, or a personality problem? Registered goats often cost $200 and up. Goats of the Boer breed tend to cost even more. These prices may seem high, but keep in mind how much money people are willing to pay for a cat or dog, who can serve in fewer capacities than the multi-purpose goat. The money you pay to a goat breeder won't even come close to paying for the feed and care he or she put into raising that animal. We do not make money on most if not all of our sales...we're lucky to break even. Also, consider your money an investment into your animals, especially if you want to raise the animals for milk, meat or fiber. A cheap goat eats just as much, and may need more vet care than the higher value animal, and the cheap one will not give back as much as the pricier goat. The expensive goat has come from a family of animals that were selected based on their ability to perform.
    If you want to sound educated when you approach a potential source of goats, the terms "doe", "buck", "kid" and "wether" should be added to your vocabulary. "Billy" and "Nanny" are slang words, and if you ask a dairy goat breeder at the State fair for a billy goat, she may very well consider you a poor choice for a good goat home and refuse to sell you any. A female goat is generally called a "doe", an intact male is termed a "buck", a baby goat is a "kid" and a castrated male is a "wether". Some meat goat breeders still use the slang terms, but to be safe, please use the more formal "doe" and "buck".

    Does and wethers make fantastic pets, bucks do not. Wethers can also be used for backpacking, brush clearing, and pulling a cart. They will grow to almost the same size as a buck, without the smell and the behavioral issues. Does can be used for the same functions, but cannot serve as well in the draft type jobs due to their smaller size. Bucks are large, smelly creatures with unique behaviors that only seasoned goat keepers can fully appreciate. Most people, even if they want to breed their goats, don't need to own a buck, especially if you are just starting out. There are usually other people in the area who have bucks and will allow people to bring their does for a fee. Boer, Nubian and Nigerian breeds are common, and you have an almost guarantee to find a buck of those breeds within a couple hour's drive of your home.

    Goats are generally very hardy creatures, but do need shelter and basic food and water provided, just like you would a dog. A three sided, roofed building, with a hay feeder up off the ground, and clean, fresh water available at all times will make your goats happy. If you are wanting dairy goats, you might consider building a small barn with storage areas for hay and grain, a kid pen and stall, and a milking parlor.

    Fencing should be "horse-high", "bull-strong" and "child-proof". Goats view fences as obstacles, not barriers. Most people find a 4 1/2 to 5 ft high, wire-mesh fence, preferably with a strand or two of electric on the inside, to be the most effective goat fencing. Shorter fencing, or electric-strand-only puts you and your goats at greater risk for runaway goats and predator attacks by dogs or coyotes. In areas where cougars or bears are possible, a shelter that you can close your goats into at night will be valuable, or you can use a Livestock Guardian Dog, from the Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, Akbash, or a few other specialized breeds to protect them.

    Just like the family dog, you generally cannot expect your goats to thrive without being fed. Particularly during the winter, when nothing is growing, your goat needs you to provide hay. Hay should smell good, not musty or moldy. Mold will sicken, and possibly kill your goats. It should be clean, dry and have a definite green color. Brown or yellow hay means there is next to no nutritional value. Dairy goats, nursing does, kids and bucks in rut will probably need alfalfa hay - it is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and they love the flavor. Wethers, dry does, and fat goats should be fed a good quality grass hay.
    Water should be available all of the time. There are lots of different sizes of plastic buckets, and aluminum water tubs that you can buy for that purpose. The water should be clean, and the bucket scrubbed when there is a sludge layer under the water level. Goats also appreciate cold water in the summer and hot water added during the winter.

    Other feeds that can be given to goats include grain, fruit/vegetable trimmings, and browse. Grain should only be given to milking/nursing does, young kids, bucks in rut, and in small amounts to sick, thin or elderly goats. Grain can kill a wether, and cause severe foot problems in any goat if they do not need it or if it is fed to any goat in excess of what they can handle. I have been trimming some hoof disease victims for three years now, and they will never completely heal. Some goats never learn to eat more than hay and grain, but many love to eat fruit and vegetable trimmings from your kitchen. Favorites include apples, banana (peel and all), broccoli, etc. Mine also have a sweet tooth comparable to the average American person, and also love non-chocolate candy.

    Acceptable browse includes Maple (any kind), alder, salal, blackberry (any kind), raspberry, apple tree trimmings, Sword fern, fir branches, and cedar (they'll de-bark the tree as well). If they need minerals, they are bored, they don't have enough fresh greens or they like the flavor, they will eat the bark off of trees. If there are trees in the pasture that you don't want your goats to kill, you will need to fence them off, or wrap fencing around the trunk far enough out so their slender noses cannot reach the tree. There are also plants that can harm your goats. Rhododendron, azalea, and bracken fern can kill them. Rhododendron/azalea poisoning will cause vomiting (goats never vomit otherwise) and the victim will die within a day or two if they get enough of it. Bracken fern can cause kidney cancer. Some goats will also learn to graze, but some don't. They prefer long, broad leafed grass when they do graze. If they graze it down too far you risk getting a major infection with intestinal worms, which can weaken or kill them.
    Due to the rising problem of worm resistance to the wormers, it is no longer recommended to worm your goats (or any other livestock) on a schedule. It is now recommended to deworm goats only when a fecal (a sample of feces examined under a microscope - a vet can do this for you) or examination of the gums or inner eyelids reveals a heavy parasite load, and only the goats who are having a problem, with twice the written dosage. I have accidentally given a yearling buck a whole tube of wormer (enough for two horses) and I didn't see any side effects. I would not advise doing that on purpose however! If you find yourself worming more than a couple times a year, then you may want to explore using copper boluses, or adding more copper to your goats' diet.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11:1